Shayne Youngblood has many things, but a permanent address is not one of them. He travels the world, driven by adventure and his own conception of freedom, which prevents him from settling down, growing roots, or having any long-term commitments. He wrote his first novella, A Man from Rio, while living in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. His current whereabouts are unknown
A Man From Rio is a gritty, tough-guy read that falls deeply into the noir genre of mystery thrillers. Its brief, choppy prose captured my attention right from the start.
“The damn shower didn’t work again.
“I have to talk to Laercio about this.
“The cold water dripping.
“I wiped my face with a dirty towel, dragged myself to bed.
“Too much blood. Maybe I should see a doctor tomorrow.”
This is not a book for people who like their characters to wear their complexity like a shimmering cape. It’s a tough, no-nonsense examination of life in the drug and crime-ridden city of Rio de Janeiro, written by a man who obviously has spent a lot of time in the favelas (shantytowns) where most of the action takes place—and there’s plenty of action.
The lead character, who has the same last name as the author (Youngblood), loses his teenage, hot Brazilian girlfriend and must search for her, weaving his way around and through near-constant crime and violence. He narrowly escapes death several times at the hands of crime lords, and experiences short-term ecstasy in the muzzy embrace of coke-happy partygoers throughout the city.
Trouble starts when he accepts a job to accompany a “client” into the woods surrounding Rio, where they are suddenly arrested by the crooked and thoroughly corrupt police force. More trouble ensues when he goes in search of his girlfriend through the steamy underbelly of urban Rio.
The action continues and finally reaches a bloody and horrifying series of climaxes as the bad guys —well, some of the bad guys, anyway—get what’s coming to them: everything from gunshots in the face to being parboiled inside a couple of truck tires.
Some of the better lines: “The Queen of the Night: a black catsuit/stilletoes/an eyes-wide-shut mask, dancing on the podium with a short guy.” And: “I met his empty stare—the stare of a survivor from a concentration camp. A man who’d lost all hope.”
Anyone who loves this genre will love this book — if you can adjust to the clipped, fast-paced writing style, that often ignores the need for a verb in every sentence.
Serve me another plate of churrasco, por favor. And hold the nine-millimeter slugs.
I give this book five stars.
Originally posted on Author Ingrid Hall Blog